|Location:||National Highway No. 2 On Delhi-Calcutta Route (Uttar Pradesh)|
|Also Known As:||Kashi|
|Main Attraction:||The Ghats, Benaras Hindu University|
|Related Links:||Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Ganges River, Sarnath|
The venerable and ancient city Varanasi is the religious centre of the world for Hindus. A magnificent city, with myriad attractions, both as an exalted place of pilgrimage and a microcosmic centre of faith. Thousands of pilgrims visit the city from all parts of India and from across the world. A unique city where the past and present, eternity and continuity live side by side.
The city rises from the high northern bank on the outside curve of Ganga, the holiest of all Indian rivers, to form a magnificent panorama of buildings in many varieties of Indian architecture. The unique relationship between the sacred river and the city is the essence of Varanasi – the land of sacred light. The Ganga is believed to have flown from the heaven to wash away the worldly sins of the humankind. Thus, to be in Varanasi is an out of this world experience, and experience of self discovery, a journey throughthe present and the past in search of immortality.
According to the historians, the city was founded some ten centuries before the birth of Christ. Situated between the two tirbutaries of the Gangas- Varuna to the north and Asi to the south – it has attained immortality. The city is mentioned in holy scriptures like ‘ Vamana Purana’ , Buddhist texts and in the epic ‘Mahabharata’.
Varansi – The Land of Holy River Ganga
The life and activities in the city revolves around the holy river. Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn when thousands of pilgrims -men, women and children, come down to the river to wait for the rising sun. Some come in groups, some alone, all absorbed in their intense thoughts of salvation, waiting for the moment when immersion in the sacred river will cleanse them of their mundane sufferings and wash their sins away. Gradually the sun rises, and the river mists slowly lift to reveal the magnificent buildings that have a solemnity unmatched by any city in the world.
Soon after the sunrise, the city’s great amphitheatre of ghats burst into activity. In the charged holistic atmosphere of the morning venerable Brahmins (known as Pandas) recite passages from sacred texts, priests dispense holy ashed to pilgrims to mark their foreheads in veneration of the gods. Boatmen, flower seller, shrill- voiced sellers selling sweetmenats and knick knacks, sacred bulls and cows roam around.
Varansi – The City of Inspiration
Varanasi inspires one to reflect about life, to ponder about creation and the insignificance of temporal wealth in the face of death. Along the watre’s edge, there are the burning ghats. The most sacred one is Manikarnika, associated with Hoddess Parvati. Lord Shiva’s wife.
Pilgrimage Attractions of Varansi
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